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Conscience Point Hardcover – October 1, 2008
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Shaye is a young pianist befriended by an eccentric artist from a wealthy New York family, Violet Ashcroft. She's easily dazzled by the estate, Conscience Point's ambiance, and the stormy eyes of Violet's brother Nick. Despite the separation between Nick and Maddie that lasts several years and through one marriage each, they connect as most artists will with exploding passion in a paradise far from their "real" worlds. Their love is a fantasy that sweeps up Maddie and leaves her blind to the reality of her self-constructed family. "Love cannot dwell with suspicion" is an apt theme running through the first portion of this novel, which stems from an ancient Roman myth featuring Cupid and Psyche. However, amidst the turmoil that her life becomes, Maddie is once again swept up by her true passion--music.Read more ›
Abeel's prose is similarly nimble, though its studied flippancy takes some getting used to. This passage describing Maddy's culinary failure and Nick's save is typical of Abeel's style throughout:
He cooked--partly by necessity. She'd curdled the beef Stroganoff for a dinner party, but Nick just laughed it off; their unspoken compact was never blame the other; the word "Strogo" became their code for gastric alert. Sure, he was bossy as hell in the kitchen, and as for the cleanup ... But ta-da! he'd set out steaming bowls of zuppa di pesce, exuding essence of sea.
Abeel's upbeat, casual prose seems inconsistent with Conscience Point's overriding darkness. It's this darkness--a kind of pervasive Gothic atmosphere--that is this novel's most compelling feature. Other redeeming qualities include Abeel's graceful treatment of Maddy's musical career and the supporting character of Violet, Nick's sister. Although Violet rarely appears in the novel, her force is apparent throughout. Overall, Conscience Point is a suspenseful family drama written in somewhat distracting prose.
Of course, this elaborate, dramatic world is irresistible to one such as Maddy, at first resisting the pull of the family's excesses, only to wonder later at her naiveté, desired by both sister and brother in that heady environment. What she realizes after considerable error is bought at great expense; "The rich, immured in their own desires, need never bump into reality." It is this painful landscape the author explores, Maddy's first brush with the Ashcroft's before she veers away from them to make her own mistakes, a stalled career, an impetuous marriage, an adopted daughter. Told in more recent time (1997-98) with flashbacks to those first days at Conscience Point, with Nick, with Violet, Maddy's life is a series of stops and starts, the promise and glamour of her talent eclipsed by daily demands.Read more ›